The state of Spurs

13Nov14

There has been a lot of teeth gnashing and name calling over the last couple of weeks. According to the media (social and national) it’s the players, the manager, the fans, Baldini, Levy and the pitches fault that Spurs are where they are.

In Chris Anderson and David Sally’s book ‘The Numbers Game‘ they take a look at football data and try to find some truths within the game. One of the clear, proven correlations they make are wages vs league position. The more you pay, the higher your league position. This is a statistical fact proven and tested across many leagues.

Despite being a year off (2013’s accounts), the Guardian premier league accounts report has the position of Spurs as the same as it has been for a while:  – Spurs have the SIXTH biggest wage bill (can you guess where I am going with this).

If we take the proven premise that wages largely equals position then a 4th or 5th place for Spurs is an over achievement.

Having mostly written this post, last night the fantastic Micheal Caley plotted out wages vs position which you can see below which further illustrates the point:

As fans we have come to expect a challenge for 4th, that 4th should be a given if we do well but a sustainable challenge every season is just not possible given the size of the club so we have a chairman who has invested in other ways.

In relations to the hiring of Pochettino, how do we know he is any good? Well he took the 13th largest wage bill in the league to an 8th place finish. That is quite an over achievement, the kind of over achievment Spurs should be looking for to make up the Champions League gap.

Giovanni Trappatoni once said:

A good coach who gets everything right can make a team maybe 5 percent better, A bad one can make it 30 percent worse. Sometimes more.

It’s early days for Pochettino but he has made a difference at Espanyol and at Southampton. He has his ideas and a philosophy he wants to get across and it requires time. If he does well we will be better by 1-2%, if he does an amazing job then we get the full 5% but that’s no guarentee of a top 4 finish.

In other potential areas of gain we have invested in the academy since Frank Arnesen came which has now provided 4 genuine first team squad players with more potentially in the pipeline. We have one of the best training facilities in the world which helps with the recruitment of players and we are trying to build a new stadium that, once built, will put an extra 30-40m in our pocket. With that extra money we can pay more wages and compete at a higher level.

When it comes to player recruitment we seem to be leaning more on the statistical side of recruitment. Henry Stott of Decision Technology mentioned their relationship with Tottenham in this article on player recruitment.

While statistics are not used soley to recruit players it has the possibility to give us a head start and to map out replacement players. For example Gareth Bale has 8 attributes scored out of 10, to replace him we find someone with those 8 attributes with similar scores in lower leagues or at a younger age with the potential to grow AKA Erik Lamela.

There is clearly a plan and we are overachieving BECAUSE of Levy, not in spite of him.

Patience is clearly wearing thin at the Lane but expectation is beyond realistic levels because of our over achievements. The pressure on the younger players such as Eriksen and Lamela is incredible. Let’s not forget both Bale and Modric took 2 seasons to find their feet and another season before they were making a real difference to the point of  the Real Madrid’s and Chelsea’s interest and big money offers.

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One Response to “The state of Spurs”

  1. Reblogged this on Kidiaba's Ponytail.


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